Covid-19 in Bulgaria: School staff who test pupils to be paid bonuses

Teachers and non-teaching staff in Bulgaria who administer tests to pupils for Covid-19 twice a week will receive 100 leva (about 50 euro) extra each for the months of November and December 2021, the Education Ministry said on November 11.

The announcement came a day after a system went into effect whereby first to fourth-grade pupils in Bulgaria may return to in-person learning, on condition of being tested for Covid-19 twice a week. The tests are saliva-based and non-intrusive. The system may proceed in a class provided that more than half of parents give written consent.

The ministry said that it had agreed on the bonuses with associations of employers and trade unions, and the agreement had been included in an annex to the collective labour agreement on pay to the end of this year.

The amended agreement also provides that basic annual paid leave for non-teaching specialists in kindergartens and schools is increased by 20 days.

The Education Ministry said that this change had been made because of the long periods of shutdown because of high Covid-19 morbidity or a local epidemic outbreak, during which service staff at schools were put on compulsory leave. Part of that compulsory leave has been unpaid.

Non-teaching staff receive an additional two days of paid leave if they are immunised against Covid-19. They may use these days either after the first or second dose of vaccine.

Since the summer, teachers who are vaccinated get an additional two days of paid leave.

On November 10, the Education Ministry said that 3549 volunteers had helped first to fourth-grade pupils return to class by joining teams testing children for Covid-19. All had a “green certificate”.

Most of the volunteers, 3271, were parents, the ministry said. Nurses, mediators and medical students also participated, it said.

Of the 37 832 pupils tested on November 10 in the 13 districts in which tests were delivered, five tested positive – two in Sofia and one each in Varna, Dobrich and Pazardzhik. As the medical protocol governing the system requires, they were handed over to their parents for laboratory testing.

The Education Ministry said that 2717 teachers and 1507 non-teaching staff who did not have “green certificates” were tested, using rapid antigen tests.

Six teachers tested positive – three in Varna and one each in Gabrovo, Dobrich and Sofia. Among other staff, three tested positive, two in Varna and one in Sofia.

The ministry said that in-person learning had resumed for 2538 classes, 1471 of which are in Sofia.

(Photo via the Education Ministry website)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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